Less than HALF of CNAs in long term care facilities are vaccinated

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Nursing assistants in long term care facilities – who work closest with vulnerable residents – are the least likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 than any other staff position, a new study finds. 

An analysis was performed by researchers from the University of Rochester, in New York, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

They found that less than half, only 49.2 percent, of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are vaccinated are fully vaccinated.

By comparison, 61 percent of practical nurses, 70.9 percent of therapists and 77.3 percent of physicians who work at U.S. nursing homes are vaccinated.

In total, 60 percent of total nursing home staff nationwide has received the shots. 

Low vaccination rates among staff that work closely with nursing home residents can be worrisome, as they could spread the virus to the vulnerable people in their care. 

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‘Results of this cross-sectional study demonstrate that COVID-19 vaccination coverage among health care staff in nursing homes lagged relative to resident coverage, with the lowest coverage among CNAs, who constitute the majority of direct caregivers,’ researchers, who published their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine on Thursday, wrote.

Non-profit and non-chain nursing homes generally had higher vaccination rates than others.

Facilities that have a higher star rating from Medicare were also more likely to have better vaccination rates among staff. 

Nursing home residents have been among the hardest struck group by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 134,000 out of 681,000 residents who have contracted the virus have died from it, almost one out of every five, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The older population of nursing homes have been the most eager to get vaccinated, though, with nearly 84 percent of residents vaccinated, according to CMS data. 

More than 2,000 staffers have died from the virus as well.

There has been a recent uptick in cases among both nursing home staff members and residents, though deaths remain low.

According to most recently available CMS data from the week that ended on August 29, 4,800 residents and 450 deaths occurred over seven days.

Both figures are around a 100 percent increase from where cases and deaths were at the start of August, with 2,200 cases and 228 deaths.

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While deaths among the staff have remained in the low double-digits, cases have spiked recently.

During the week that ended on August 29, 6,500 cases were recorded among nursing home staffers, a two-fold increase over where cases were at the start of the month. 

President Joe Biden has attempted to boost the vaccination rate among nursing home staff.  

In August, he announced that nursing homes must set vaccine mandates in order to continue receiving funding through the Medicare program –  which a majority of these facilities depend on. 

‘With this announcement, I’m using the power of the federal government as a payer of health care costs to ensure reduce health risks to our most vulnerable seniors,’ the President said during a speech announcing the move.

‘These steps are all about keeping people safe and out of harm’s way.’

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Data from the study was gathered in July, so the impact Biden’s mandate has had on vaccination rates is yet to be determined.

Nursing home staff will join a large number of staffers across the country who will have to get jabbed to keep their jobs. 

The White House is also working to make sure everyone who works for the federal government, works for a contractor or for a company with more than 100 employees gets the shots. 

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